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Current Events

Student Blog Post: The 2016 presidential question casts serious doubts on the Electoral College

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events. 

Electoral College banish

A sequence of articles written by Timothy Noah titled America’s Worst College argues for the elimination of the Electoral College. The author brings up valid points about presidential nominees paying more attention to the “swing states” such as Florida instead of heavily populated states like California. Noah further analyzed the claim that small states would have no say without the college and found that many of the small states with only three votes do not get many presidential visits, that in fact the college is not doing much to benefit them. Additionally, the Electoral College has overstated the margin of victory in most elections. However, opponents of the getting rid of the Electoral College claim that this method reduces recount possibilities, as there is a limited number of states to be recounted.

A series of articles was also written to defend the Electoral College by Gary L. Gregg titled The Electoral College is Good for America. In these articles, he further elaborates on these points, arguing for the College. The writer states that if we didn’t have the electoral system the way it is, presidential candidates would ask for recounts across the nation, leading to chaos. He further goes onto express how our system was set up by our Founding Fathers and has been working for centuries. It has never failed us and doesn’t need fixing. The Electoral College serves to exaggerate the margin of victory, helping stabilize and legitimize the government. The author also mentions a very interesting idea that eliminating the College would lead to more polarization within the parties and potentially would leave out rural areas of America that are less densely populated.

A week ago, America voted for president-elect, Donald Trump, into office. However, the popular vote and the electoral vote reflect two different outcomes and people are outraged, and in my opinion, rightly so. The majority of voters wanted Hilary Clinton in office, but because of the electoral design, that fact does not matter. Many things have been established to protect minorities against majority oppression but what happens to democracy when the minorities are allowed to oppress the majorities? How undemocratic can we be?

Many petitions have begun to be circulated online, collecting signatures, calling for the end of the College, with those collected ranging from 500,000 to 4.3 million. There are several people rallying against Trump, and it is being done by protest and by petition. But what will happen when the issues of this election die down? Will the people forget and the College be allowed to stay?

Well, the Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, entered legislation addressing the Electoral College. The bill suggests abolishing the College by amending the Constitution, and if passed by Congress, would go into effect 7 to 8 years after ¾ of the states ratified it. But Tuesday November 8, 2016 also determined that we would have a Republican controlled House and Senate, so the passage of this bill is highly unlikely as the electoral system currently benefits the Republican Party. I do not think that it is right to amend Trump’s victory, but I do think that Electoral College itself should be given more attention to avoid similar situations as this election.

The reasons for establishing the college back in the time of the Founding Father are outdated and simply not reason enough to keep it today. The people that voted for Trump voted for him because they are tired of these career politicians like Hilary Clinton, but that is exactly what the College does, keeps power within the hands of elites. The Electoral College diminishes the power and effect of people’s vote and resigns it to the electors. The fact that faithless electors can virtually decide the outcome, without real sanctions, is unreasonable. The fact that an elector named Robert Satiacum in the state of Washington announced he would be voting for Trump, regardless of what the people of the state wanted is downright scary. Many make the argument that they don’t vote because their vote does not matter and under the Electoral College in the state of California, they have a very real argument. One vote should mean one vote, but under this antiquated system, it doesn’t.

Reyna Mendoza is a fourth-year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona. 

 

Student Blog Post: 2016 hits a new low with voter turnout

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events. 

voter turnout alt right

Since the two presidential nominees were announced, the 2016 election has been the “talk of the town,” but finally, the race has come to an end and the results are in. Donald Trump has been elected the next President of the United States, winning the election with 280 electoral votes, against his opponent Hillary Clinton, who only had 228 electoral votes in her favor. For many, this presidential election has been the most bizarre and interesting that has occurred over the last two decades, according to a study conducted over the summer by the Pew Research Center. Yet when Election Day finally came, voter turnout statistics showed that it was the lowest voter turnout since 1996. According to CNN, only 55% of voting age citizens voted this year thus far, not counting write-ins and provisional ballots, but it is no match for the 64% voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election, which is considered an example of a high point in voter turnout.

There are numerous reasons why voters are not making the time to vote, such as the fact hat none of the candidates were particularly favorable for either Republican or Democratic party. However, many voters do not vote because of voting barriers, such as not having the ability to vote. Some voters are also not particularly educated or interested enough in the world of politics to think that voting is important. Some people believe that their vote doesn’t actually matter when it comes to electing the next leader of the United States. Voters can lack a sense of civic duty or even have any idea of how to vote or even how to get to a polling place. Whatever the reason, such factors are indeed affecting voter turnout and the results are definitely showing. If such low interest in politics continues and if we continue having nominees of more unfavorable candidates, it will most likely affect future presidential elections as well.

Carla Santiani is a fourth year political science major and minoring in psychology. She enjoys cooking, reading, and binging on political TV dramas. She plans on going to graduate school in the future to further her education in psychology and politics.

Student Blog Post: Trump’s success is a mixture of different (and unexpected) factors

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events. 

trump women photo meme support

The 2016 presidential election is proving to be an intense period in the American history. The two candidates are now going head-to-head in the polls as election day is only a few days away. However, taking a closer look at this election, we have come to see that it has been one rollercoaster of a ride for Donald Trump. From his comments about Muslims, Mexicans, building a wall, and of course, his lewd comments about women, he has proven to be a peculiar candidate.

Focusing specifically on his comments about women, recorded on the Access Hollywood tapes, he gave no regard to the treatment of the female gender. By saying comments such as “they let them do anything to you when you’re rich,” shows what a misogynistic man he really is. However, we have to stop and wonder how he still has support from women, even after these comments. This blind following of Trump falls back to the idea of party identification. Some women are so loyal to the Republican Party, that it does not matter to them what comments Trump makes, as long as they fall into the Republican ideology.

The Michigan Model, a study created to see how voters vote they way they do, could potentially explain this attachment. The Michigan Model focused on the sociological and psychological thinking of voters. They found that people determined their vote through processing considerations in what they called “The Funnel of Causality”. This funnel consisted of three considerations: party identification, candidate characteristics and issue positions. For the researchers, they found that people voted foremost with whichever party they identified the most with, mostly ignoring issue positions or candidate qualifications.

Female Trump supporters might be voting for Trump because of the process described by the Michigan Model. Even though there is a woman in the race, female voters may support Trump because they are staunch Republicans. These women believe Trump is the best possible candidate for their party without knowing the basic facts about him such as that he started his life out as a Democrat, he has consistently lied and fluctuated on his words on national television, and also supports incredibly right wing policies that many Republican leaders from his own party do not even agree with.

Another factor as to why these women could be voting for such a right wing nominee is because of the idea of retrospective voting. This idea entails that voters make political decisions based on past events and performances. This theory is linked to pocketbook voting, which describes how voters take economic considerations into account. If the voter believes that the current party has done him or her justice in the last eight years, he or she is more likely to vote in the current party’s favor. However, if the voter believes that he or she has suffered due to the current party and the president, he or she is more likely to vote in favor of the opposite party. Tying this back to the women, many of them could feel as if their families have suffered through an economic turmoil during Barack Obama’s presidency, thus pushing them to cast their vote for Trump.

All in all, there are many factors as to why women are voting for Trump in this current election. It will be interesting to see how this close election will play out and how female voters will influence on who wins the election in these next few days.

Nupur Katti is a third year Political Science major who enjoys dancing, reading, and watching Netflix. She plans on going to law school right after graduation. 

Student Blog Post: Although Trump faltered early, he has a path to 270

The “Student Blog Post” series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events. 

This year’s election has been nothing but a roller coaster ride and has ultimately changed the way we perceive elections. As election day comes closer, we will finally have our answer to who will be the next President of the United States. Republican nominee Donald Trump is currently playing catch-up as he is behind heavily favored Hillary Clinton in most polls. It may sound like a long shot, but Trump still has a legitimate shot at winning this election. According to Trump’s campaign, they are spending an upwards of $25 million on TV ads in the final week looking to turn the tide in key battleground states such as: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire. Trump has to pull a trick out of his sleeve and win a majority of these states in order to capture that elusive number of 270 electoral votes.

Before we can look at the possible ways of what Trump needs to do in order to win this election, we first must take an inside look into voting behavior. Trump must appeal to certain socio-economic groups, which directly relates to the Columbia Model. The Columbia Model found that social group membership is an important determinant of the vote. Hillary is a potentially “better fit” than Trump because of his obscene comments he has made about women over the past several months.

Do voters even vote rationally? Rational choice is defined as weighing the costs and benefits of voting. In some rational choice models, considerations like the economy, performance of incumbent party, and strength of the incumbent party can help us determine the winner of the election. In theory, this seems like a good idea but we have to assume that voters are aware of the issue and identify the complexities of these issues. In 2016, are voters really educated on what is going on in politics? According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 55% of Americans can successfully identify both conservative or liberal stances on certain issues.

In order for Trump to win he must win all the states that Romney won in 2012 and flip key battleground states that Obama won such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. He must also lock up both Maine and Nebraska’s districts single electoral votes. Another potential scenario that can get Trump to the White House is if African-American turnout is low. According to the early voter turnout in key battleground states, African American voter turnout is lower than it was in 2012. If this trend continues then Trump may have a legitimate shot at winning the White House.

Oscar Silva is a third year mathematics and political science double major. After graduation, he plans to be a high school math teacher and to coach an elite girls basketball program.